What is the Apgar Test?

The Apgar test is an assessment that is performed on a newborn baby after delivery.  This test is done to know how well a baby tolerated the birthing process. It is a system of analyzing the health of a newborn and was created by Dr. Virginia Apgar, MD in 1952.  The Apgar test has 5 categories which can be scored a 0, 1, or 2 and is performed by a doctor, midwife, or nurse.

Dr. Virginia Apgar, MD, came up with a list of important signs in order to evaluate the health of a newborn.  In the 1940’s, delivery room doctors focused more on mothers than the babies after delivery and those babies that were struggling suffered due to the doctors assuming little could be done to help them.  Dr. Apgar then came up with a scoring system that would tell if there was a major problem and that is still used today. The scores of this of this test have been credited with a steady increase in neonatal survival rates as well as detecting birth defects within moments of birth.  

The five categories are remembered based on Dr. Apgar’s name:

  1. Appearance – the color of the newborn’s skin
  2. Pulse – measuring heart rate.
  3. Grimace – the reflex response that is in response to stimulation such as a mild pinch
  4. Activity – the movement and muscle tone of the arms and legs
  5. Respiration – breathing and having a good, strong cry

This test is performed twice, 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth.  The one-minute Apgar score helps the practitioner decide whether or not the baby needs immediate medical help.  The five-minute Apgar score tells how the baby is progressing and whether there is any initial medical intervention warranted.  However, the scoring of this test is subjective and can be affected by maternal factors such as the mother’s age and if any medical interventions were used.

The  Apgar test is not a predictor of any long term disability or neurological deficits.  It does help to describe the state of the infant immediately after birth and has become standardized medical practice.  


Dr. Sara Leavitt, DC

BIRTHFIT Wichita ICT Chiropractic & Acupuncture, Wichita, KS



“The Apgar Score.” BabyCenter, 17 Apr. 2015, www.babycenter.com/0_the-apgar-score_3074.bc.

“Women’s Health Care Physicians.” The Apgar Score – ACOG, www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/The-Apgar-Score.

Pediatrics, A. A., Newborn, C. O., American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, & Practice, C. O. (2006, April 01). The Apgar Score, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/4/1444

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